SARAH BUITENDACH: Jeff Bezos’ houses: lifestyles of the rich and edible
There’s nothing like whipping out a good old device of decapitation to make your point about social inequality and the elites
You may have seen the news pieces in the past few weeks, like this one from Vanity Fair, that detailed how protesters recently set up a guillotine outside the Washington, DC home of the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos.
As I sat knitting like a proper tricoteuse, and reading about the goings-on, I chuckled darkly. There’s nothing like whipping out a good old device of decapitation — most famously used to do away with France’s uber-wealthy during the French Revolution — to make your point about social inequality and the elites.
The move came courtesy of an ex-Amazon worker (Bezos owns the mega-business, of course), Chris Smalls, who arrived outside the CEO’s pad with 100 other campaigners to demand that he up the company’s minimum wage to $30 an hour. They also called for adequate personal protective equipment and hazard pay for staff.
As Vanity Fair put it: “Smalls spoke to the gathered crowd, saying, ‘Give a good reason we don’t deserve a $30 minimum wage when this man makes $4,000 a second.’ During the pandemic alone, Bezos made over $24bn.” Anyone who isn’t the richest man in the world must see how Smalls might have a point.
Then, to continue the revolutionary metaphor, last week a group of Black Lives Matter activists got together, this time outside Bezos’s house in Washington state, declaring it was time to “eat the rich”. The Post Millennial website has the details of what else was said at that gathering.
It all got me thinking about a couple things. First, how can one man have so much money in a world where so many have so little? Second, are Bezos’s neighbours hovering at their windows, watching the protesters with annoyance or alarm? Are they worried that they’ll be a canapé for the proletariat too? Also, because I am a total snoop, what sort of houses do you live in when the edges of the universe are the limit, as per old Jeff?
Turns out our man at the top of the money pyramid has a broad bundle of abodes. According to this article by Real Estate Daily Beat, he is the 25th-largest landowner in the US and his properties include a penthouse in Manhattan’s famous Flatiron Building, a ranch in Texas and the former textile museum-turned-mansion in Washington, DC, where the guillotine is, erm, headlining at the moment.
For more on that pad, which is in the same suburb the Obamas and Trump/Kushners call home, read Town & Country’s piece here. It includes Bezos’s blueprints of the renovation of the place, which will include “25 bathrooms, 11 bedrooms, five living rooms, two kitchens, two libraries, two workouts, two elevators, and a ballroom”.
But why stop there, when you can also own a sprawling estate in Beverly Hills? Bezos hasn’t. Earlier this year he bought a 90210-postcoded property for a reported $165m — making it the highest-priced home sale in California history. He also then bought an adjacent house for a further $10m. For intriguing aerial views of the place and its fascinating history, go to this Business Insider story. Sadly, there are no interior images, but one hopes that, for that kinda cash, it’s a vision of utter beauty and comfort. Though as we all know, no amount of money can buy taste.
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